« January 2010 | Main | March 2010 »

February 26, 2010

That was fun!

Thank you SO MUCH to everyone who came out last night to Barnes & Noble. It was fun!

booksigning20101.jpg

The best part was seeing old friends (I didn't take enough pictures, though!) like Denise:
booksigning2010-medenise.jpg

And the next best part was at the end when it turned into an impromptu Stitch 'n Bitch meeting:
booksigning20102.jpg

I am so incredibly grateful to everyone who's stuck with me and decided to Tivo the Olympics (or Idol!) and come out on a Thursday night. And I thank those who were there in spirit but in body were in a different time zone.

Speaking of Idol, what the heck? Tyler Grady gone and the five completely forgettable guys with the same hair get to stay? Is it because the audience is too young to remember the supercool Robert Plant rockstar stance? Totally mysterious.

Tonight it's supposed to start raining here so we're on STORMWATCH!!!! It's very exciting. Have a great weekend everyone!

Posted by laurie at 7:05 AM

February 25, 2010

Crazytalk!

I was just in the elevator on my way up to the coffee, or my office, but coffee first, and I got into the elevator with two very tall, pretty girls who were having a hard time getting their badges to work in the elevator scanner and so I made a comment about this building being like the Pentagon, or something incredibly useful like that, and one of the girls said, "Are you Laurie Perry?"

And I am still asleep in the mornings, so I didn't think it through and I thought, maybe my redonkulous responses have been documented somewhere on the corporate intranet so she knows it's me? then I said, "Yes I am. Hello?" Then: maybe she works in my building and maybe I made a brochure for her once or something. We do so much work via email here that you often don't meet face-to-face.

"I don't work here, I'm a fan!" she said, "I have your book!" and I almost fell over! Because you know, I am at the Bank in my be-incognito-at-work attire and also, no coffee, and also, how cool is that!

She said she was just in town as a consultant so I invited her to our shindig tonight. I hope to see you there! I'll even be wearing mascara this time and will be awake to make real conversation, probably not about the Pentagon but one can never be too sure.


Barnes & Noble at The Grove
189 Grove Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90036
Thursday, February 25th, 2010
7:00 p.m. [ Map here ]


- - -
p.s. Chris did a hilarious interview with the cats today. You can read it here! When do those cats get the time to give interviews???

Posted by laurie at 8:57 AM

February 24, 2010

See you tomorrow night at 7 p.m.!

It's almost time...

Barnes & Noble at The Grove
189 Grove Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90036
Thursday, February 25th, 2010
7:00 p.m. [ Map here ]
(I think a few weeks ago I accidentally said it was at 7:30 p.m. but on the B&N calendar they have me for 7 p.m. Whoops!)


I'll be the one trying to look taller. Bring your knitting (and yes, if you already bought the book you can bring it in the store) and we'll have a little knit night. I'll be doing a short reading from the book and then we'll do some Q&A for as long as you want to chitchat then I'll sign some books.

La Soba will be staying at home:
sobatongue.jpg
Kitty tongue!

Oh, p.s.
Did anyone watch AI last night? What did you think of the top 12 girls?

And p.p.s.
Can anyone recommend a great knitted glove pattern that you tried and liked making?

Posted by laurie at 8:56 AM

February 23, 2010

Seafood success; If only I were a betting fool...

Tuesday! That means American Idol and dinner at home with a nice glass of wine and a good dinner. This may surprise you, but I am even the one cooking a good dinner!

My cooking skills are mediocre at best, I am able to make certain things pretty well but I tend to stick with basics and I often overcook everything. A lot. That's fine for a roast in the crockpot but not so fine with delicate foods and especially seafood.

I have discovered maybe the only foolproof way ever for me to cook fish without it becoming a rubbery, overcooked mess: Fish in papillote. I was watching the Food Network one day a few weeks ago and saw Melissa D'Arabian making this recipe and it looked easy enough for me to try it. And it's GREAT! I've become completely hooked on it. I get so tired of chicken or rice and beans all the time, which are my usual default dinners. (Or microwaved popcorn!) And awesomely enough, I found fresh Dover Sole at Whole Foods for $8.99 a pound, which is cheaper than the organic chicken I usually buy. And a pound of sole is a LOT of seafood. For just one person you only need 4 fillets or so at a time for two or three meals and that will run you about $4. This fish is very mild and the fillets are thinly cut so they cook quickly, too.

Before starting, I cut up a few carrots, some zucchini and a yellow bell pepper very thinly and put them in individual baggies to cut down on my prep time during the week. If you pre-cut your veggies over the weekend you could make this dish in under 5 minutes of prep and just 12 minutes of cooking time, which is about all I can do when I get home at night. Here are the ingredients I used:

fishpaper1.jpg

Parchment paper, baggies of zucchini, carrots and peppers, one lemon, old bay seasoning.

I put the fish on the parchment paper:
fishpaper2.jpg

The lemon I'm using is a Meyer Lemon, a little sweeter than a normal lemon. Squeeze half a small lemon on the fish and slice the other half into thin slices. Then sprinkle the fish with Old Bay and layer on a few lemon slices (I like lemony seafood, but you could cut down on the lemon and use white wine like in the Food Network recipe instead.)

fishpaper3.jpg

Top with veggies and a final lemon slice:

fishpaper4.jpg

Starting at one corner wrap the paper tightly so it makes a half-circle. It doesn't have to be perfect:

fishpaper5.jpg

I've been cooking mine on a cookie sheet (lined with foil, just in case it spills which it hasn't) and I cook it for 12 minutes in a 375 degree oven. The veggies won't be super soft, but lightly steamed and nice and colorful. This is the packet when it comes out of the oven:

fishpaper6.jpg

Slide it all onto a plate for a tasty dinner:

fishpaper7.jpg

It's a great dinner, and only takes me 15 minutes start to finish (with the vegetables pre-cut, of course.) And I feel like I'm eating a real meal. I am just not one of those people who thinks salad is a meal. To me, a salad is something you pick around out while waiting for your real meal to arrive.

In the photo above I'm having this fish with a baked potato because it was a weekend and I had some time. But I also made the rice with caramelized shallots recipe featured in the same Ten Dollar Dinners show with the fish and it was very good. I used brown basmati rice in place of white rice and it was delicious, the shallots add a nice sweetness to the nutty basmati rice. Rice is easy to heat up during the week for quick weeknight dinners and goes well with this fish, too. I have to say I am impressed enough with this dish that I would even serve it to company. Plus the best part of all is there is NO cleanup! No icky fish pan to clean, and the house doesn't smell like fish thank goodness.

- - -

I'm so glad I decided to watch American Idol this season! I have decided I'm going to make a preliminary call and say who I think will be in the top 5:

ai-top-5.jpg

Crystal is by far my favorite. I realize all this is totally premature since we haven't really heard any of them sing much but I thought I would call it now anyway and then at the end I could look back and see how close I was. I like to amuse myself with random prognosticating.

These two also make honorable mention:
ai-maybes.jpg

I like this show because it's so much fun to watch people with talent chasing their dreams. And Ellen's doing a great job, I think, as a judge. What do you think? Are you watching this season?


Posted by laurie at 9:52 AM

February 22, 2010

Last Monday in February list

1) Time passes, woman astonished
Whoa. Can you believe it is already the last week of February? I wonder if I am somehow small-brained in the Time Passing department, as I am always astonished to wake up and discover things like, holy moly it's 2010! Or ... it's already almost March 2010! This may be a very annoying quality of mine, my constant astonishment and wonder at the turning of the calendar pages. But on the other hand ... I have retained my wonder and astonishment at things like the ever-changing pages of the calendar. I'm kind of like a puppy that way.

2) Time passes, woman too busy making three-letter words to notice
Online Boggle is the best invention ever. I have a doctor's appointment later today and the waiting room is always this long ordeal and now I can play boggle on my phone and I am actually looking forward to it. (See: "easily amused puppylike brain" above.)

3) Laundry Haiku:
Big pile of laundry
Why do you mock me like that?
I think you eat socks.

4) Blame it on the Barefoot Contessa
After watching too much tivo-d Food Network programming this weekend I want to go to Paris and make an arugula salad with warm butternut squash. And I don't even like arugula.

5) Or blame it on Gwyneth and pals
I love watching that show Spain... On the Road Again which makes me forget laundry and work and everything else that's piled up and instead makes me think of driving through the Spanish countryside with nothing ahead but a good meal and some sightseeing.

Posted by laurie at 9:32 AM

February 20, 2010

Stalkerazzi

I was just out driving back from the store and passed Marmalade on Ventura Blvd. and there was a pack of paparazzi out front, a knot of 40 or 50 guys with cameras jostling around on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant. Must have been a big A-lister inside, you usually only see that kind of lens for Britney Spears.

The police had been called and there were three squad cars out front and five or six cops trying to keep the path to the front door clear. That is crazy! The first thing that went through my head is... I cannot imagine living like that. Can you imagine not even being able to go to lunch without a pack of hounds taking your picture? The next thing that went through my head was... I wish the traffic was stopped so I could take out my camera and take a picture of the picture-takers. Funny.

Posted by laurie at 2:34 PM

February 19, 2010

It's like Nashville with a tan.

No tanning today in the city of angels, it's grey and dreary and we even had mist this morning on the 101. Maybe it's more like Nashville than we'd realized. One of the best things about Tennessee weather is that if you don't like it, just wait a few hours and it might change! I went to college in Middle Tennessee and I can't believe how soon after leaving the South I turned into a wimp, acclimated to Los Angeles weather and became personally offended when the sky clouded up. That's the power of perpetual sun.

This is weird, and has nothing to do with anything: Ants. If you live in Southern California you will at some point in your life have an ant problem. The entire region is built on a giant anthill. When I was married we lived in this big house in North Hollywood and had the worst ant problem ever. And in my little house in Encino-adjacent I had problems from time to time, once it rained so hard outside that the ants in the ground all came out and converged on the cement patio, so the whole thing was covered, it was beyond gross. No matter how much you clean, no matter how vigilant you are, if you live here you will get an ant. It happens. I personally declared a holy war against ants and I will do just about anything to eradicate them. I try not to use any poison because of the cats, but I noticed the ants hate vinegar and I will spray them vigorously until my house smells like pickles. Plus it makes the mirrors shiny.

I haven't had any problems at all in my new apartment until this week I noticed about ten ants near the cat food. But the weirdest thing is there is no way to tell where they're coming from. Usually there's a trail and you can find the point of entry and seal it up. This was beyond bizarre, they just appeared randomly with no apparent trail. And just six or ten of them. But where there is one ant there are 12 million, so I've been vigilant, moving the cat food from place to place, confusing the cats and so far avoiding an invasion.

But I'll take California ants any day over the profusion of bug life back in the South, especially my longtime enemy The Horrifying Palmetto Bug. They are gigantic flying roaches, people. They are the Worst Bug Ever, except maybe the camel cricket. Eewwwwww.

I know I have already told this story somewhere, but once when I was about 12, I was living in Louisiana and in the middle of the night I had to get up and go to the bathroom. So there I was just sitting on the pot, half-asleep, and I saw this big long brown thing over by the tub and I thought, "Hmmm, I must have left a barrette in here." I didn't have my glasses on, mind you.

Then the barrette started walking across the floor! I screamed (and woke up the whole house) and I HAD to squash it or something before it attacked but I was in my nightgown and didn't have any shoes on, obviously, and then it started to flap around so I used the only weapon I could find -- a can of Rave Hairspray #4. I sprayed like my life depended on it, until the threat had been neutralized and the bathroom was covered in hairspray and my little brother went into an asthma attack from the fumes. Any time I start feeling full of myself my family likes to remind me of the time I screamed and pitched a hissy and attacked a bug with hairspray and we all had to vacate the house for a while to let it air out.

Good times.


bobtongue2.jpg
Mmmm, bugs! Sounds tasty!

Posted by laurie at 8:42 AM

February 18, 2010

Why do I feel like somebody's watching me?

Ack, I can't believe my book event is just a week away! This time next week I will be fighting the urge to hide in my linen closet. You know how you get party anxiety when you throw a party and start panicking that no one will come? Or that too many people will come and you'll run out of something and the neighbors will complain? Or you go back to the beginning and worry that no one will come? Events are like party anxiety times a hundred.

But I'm not going to think about that anymore today. Instead, I'm going to be glad that I am not being watched by a furry overlord with an attitude:

bob-soba-watching1.jpg

bob-soba-watching3.jpg

bob-soba-watching2.jpg

Cat drama!

Posted by laurie at 9:01 AM

February 17, 2010

The real author of this website

soba-laptop-startup.jpg
The toughest part of my secret identity is getting the laptop turned on.


soba-laptop-what.jpg
What? Haven't you ever seen a cat at work?


soba-laptop-writes.jpg
Composing my manifesto...


soba-laptop-sleepy.jpg
... is exhausting work!

Posted by laurie at 10:43 AM

February 16, 2010

Signs, signs, everywhere a sign

feb16-jesus.jpg
He's talking on a cellphone, though you can't really see it in the picture. Reminds me of a sign they have posted at church, "God may be calling you... but not on your cellphone. Please turn off all phones during services."

- - -

feb16-fatburger.jpg

The sign in the window says, "Our buns are freshly baked. And quite honestly that's as personal as we're going to get."

- - -

feb16-bob.jpg

Sign of cuteness!

Posted by laurie at 9:06 AM

February 14, 2010

Valentine's Day: sunny and 80, like February should be!

Happy Valentines' Day!

For all the digs people make about L.A. -- traffic, smog, crime, cost of living -- you can't quantify the feeling of walking outside on a February afternoon and getting that golden California sunshine on your face. Paradise. Paradise, then traffic.

Three things:

1) What does it say about me that in my stash I had yet another bin of single skeins, this time all in mostly oranges/pinks, already collected for some eventual project? I added a few skeins from my reds/pinks bin and I have enough here to make a scarf for a giant. I might take the suggestion from a few of ya'll and make this one into a shawl. I'm going to make it the same way as my new favorite scarf, casting on a lot of stitches and knitting the scarf longways on long circular needles.

2) Jen and I are going to see Valentine's Day (the movie). I hope it's good like Love, Actually.

3) My Valentine this year is my camera! I'm taking pictures like they're going out of style. I need to buy another camera cord, though. I left the only one I have at the office. When will they make a camera that transfers pictures wirelessly? That would be cool.

Have a good day!

Posted by laurie at 11:40 AM

February 13, 2010

Weekend

For the past three years I've made sure to plan a vacation over Valentine's weekend and it's been great, like a little love letter to my wandering gypsy side. This year I couldn't really plan anything because I knew there was going to be at least some promo for my book and nothing was firmed up until recently. It's been good, though, it's given me an opportunity to try and get my finances smoothed out (moving is very expensive!) and it will be nice for a change to have some vacation time left at the end of the year. Usually I use it all up by March!

And my parents are coming in April or May and I want to be able to visit with them, so I won't be traveling at all until perhaps this summer. Part of me has been very content to just stay home and hermit, which I can do like it's an Olympic sport. I realize now that going on trips is good for me in an unexpected way, it gets me out of my house! And out of my head. I tend toward the habitual, and so when I am being a homebody I get more and more reclusive. A trip here or there a few times a year keeps me open to new possibilities, new adventures.

People are often like that, I think, we get used to something and keep doing it until jogged out of the rut. It's not a bad thing. I'm perfectly happy at home, I love being silent and productive on my little tasks, writing or knitting or just cleaning the house, making some new recipe. My home life is a sanctuary. I love my animals, I love keeping myself entertained with a good book or a funky knitting project or just re-arranging all the stuff in my bathroom cabinet. I suppose some people find that totally strange, how can one be perfectly satisfied and content alone? But to me it's the epitome of peace.

Traveling is good for me to get me away from my safe, contained place and jolt me into the unexpected. It's the best way for me because it feels like adventure, and it makes you appreciative of the world and even more grateful to return to your own bed. Before I recognized what an introvert I am I used to force myself to go and do and see every weekend something new and it chipped away at my energy and I felt frazzled. This new life seems to be working better for me, it's certainly less scheduled and eventful but gives me room for those bigger escapes a few times a year, instead of always trying to mix it up each weekend.

The ads on TV and the radio and the huge displays in the grocery store around Valentine's Day remind me that our programming is all geared towards pairing up. Our culture isn't built around single people, the single lifestyle. Pairing up is what's more common and of course it's a good part of life, too! But there are a lot of paths to happiness. Finally I really understand that being solo isn't the same as being lonely. It took me a long time to get it. Five years ago when I was going through my divorce and even the whole year or two afterward my focus was still on a man, some man, whoever he might be one day in the future. There was a sense of my life suspended in waiting, in the time between companions. It never occurred to me I would find happiness as a single person. It simply never dawned on me that I might consciously choose to be the captain of my own ship for a while.

What a surprise to discover my best companion is me! All that time I spent wanting somebody to complete my life, expecting that I would need to find another man to add peace or love or contentment. For so long that was the goal -- fix myself so I would find a great guy -- and all the other pieces of my life (my job, my hopes, my goals, my desires, my home, my clothes, my social life) were just a framework to get myself into another relationship.

Oh -- and thinking I had to wait until I met a man to travel again! It wasn't obvious to me that I could do all this on my own, or that I could feel happiness from just doing well at living my life. I was gobsmacked. I had no frame for the mental picture, I carried inside me an expectation that really good vacations happened with family or with a husband.

It was astonishing to discover I prefer traveling alone. Dude - I LOVE IT. I love relying on myself to make plans and I always come through for myself. I work hard when needed and leave the rest up to happenstance and magic. It's a leap of faith -- faith in me, and faith that I can handle whatever weird situation the travel gods have put me in. I love the freedom of possibility. I love the knowledge that wherever I am I will laugh and so will the person holding the boarding pass, especially when they see my godawful driver's license picture. That piece of work is a built in laugh-a-tron. I believe life gives you what you want and what you need. And at home I like making the big decisions, I like knowing I can depend on myself, I like being resourceful and not always knowing how it will come out.

That is how my singledom has unfolded. There's no proof of a great plan. No proof I get to see Roy reincarnated. But I am single with the Universe getting my back. We're not alone, we have ourselves and our spirits behind us. When a vacation goes wrong these days it's not because my husband let me down or I failed, it's just part of life. I turn it into a funny story. And now I can't imagine it any other way, I can't imagine ever going backwards and expecting someone else to make me happy. Happiness is an inside job. How can any other human being ever look inside your heart and see what will make you happy? Especially when most of us don't even know ourselves? I love the idea of lifting yourself up to possibility. I am hopeful, I am optimistic, and I think pure hope can dash fear. I think life is wide and we are small.

I would have never guessed any of this. It's a revelation. I know it's not everyone's first choice, and how I landed here is a mystery even to me, I was so dead set on hooking my wagon to someone else's for so long that I'm as shocked as anyone to be a single woman all happy and stuff. But it's a very good place to be for me. Coupling has never felt as good to me as independence feels.

Listen: I'm thrilled for those who meet someone that sets their heart on fire and makes their life colorful and full. And I'm relieved to see not everyone has to follow my path to be happy. There are so many roads to personal fulfillment, even ones I never expected. I'm happy for all of us, those who fit the bill and those of us who wandered a bit. We create a new happy each day, each in our own way. The woman who chooses to be a single parent. The woman who chooses to divorce and live with her partner without a contract. The woman who marries another woman. The man who proposes to his boyfriend. The woman who falls in love at 63 and meets THE ONE and he's only 57. Or the woman in Los Angeles who has three cats and a room of yarn and is astonished to discover she is happy all alone, for once in her life she has the say on everything and it makes her heart sing. She feels generous because she now has just enough.

To all of them I say thank you, I love you, keep on keeping on.
To all those people, I wish you mad Valentine love.
To my single friends who feel what I'm saying here (minus the hokey kumbaya stuff) ...it is good to be alive. And all the chocolate will go on sale tomorrow!

Posted by laurie at 1:02 AM

February 12, 2010

Everything has come down with a case of pink and frilly!

Just in case you somehow someway forgot that Valentine's Day was around the corner, a quick trip to the local grocery store will bring it all back in focus:

vd2010.jpg

I felt like I was being pummeled with fake love and Mylar. I got my fizzy water and instant coffee and left with the quickness.

My little Valentines are at home anxiously awaiting my return:

frank-n-bob-asleep.jpg
Yeah, real anxious...

Oh, one last thing... my publicist Kim Weiss sent me this info about a new series of books that will feature real-life romance stories:

Do you have a sexy, steamy, bigger-than-life, or just plain worthwhile love story to tell? Want it romanticized by an actual romance novelist?

You can submit your own story to VOWS and qualify for one of two (or both) prizes. There will be a monthly winner in an ongoing "best story" contest. Winners will get their choice of a dozen long stemmed red roses or a box of Godiva chocolates. For details, click here.

My romance story that involves an amazing sale on Noro and a bottle of wine apparently isn't what they're looking for, but you may have just the love story to win a prize!

And on this Valentine's weekend, my pink contribution to the world will be finally finishing the baby booties that go with Courtney's baby sweater and sending them off in hopes that this gift reaches her before her child is off to college:

booties-for-courtney.jpg


Happy Weekend of chocolate!

Posted by laurie at 8:52 AM

February 11, 2010

My new favorite knitted scarf, and perhaps I can use it as a self-muzzling device.

First, this has nothing to do with my scarf, aside from the notion that a long scarf might be a useful tool for shutting my mouth:

I was chatting with a coworker yesterday, we'll call her Jane, and she and I were in the ladies room in front of the mirror where the sinks are. And of course when you're staring into a big huge mirror you check out your lipstick and so on. She turned her cheek a bit and looked at a small red bump and said she had a blemish that she was a little worried about.

"I'm not sure what it is," said Jane, "but I don't remember touching it or anything and yet it's red and kind of dry. It's unusual. I don't know if I should get it checked out."

"Well it's probably not the flesh eating bacteria," I assured her.

Jane just looked at me for a bit, not saying anything. Then: "Um, I hadn't really considered that option."

"Oh! I had a pimple once and I went to my doctor and I was sure I had pre-flesh-eating-disease and so he looked at it and said it was just a zit and then he wrote me a prescription." I said. Then I smiled, to be more reassuring in nature.

"I see," said Jane. "And what did your doctor write you a prescription for...?"

"He asked me where I got the idea that it was a flesh-eating acne situation and I told him I'd read it on Web M.D. and then he wrote me a prescription for no more Web M.D.," I said. "Now that I come to think of it, I guess that is an embarrassing story."

"Actually," said Jane, "I was thinking more along the lines that I should get this spot checked out for melanoma or something like that."

"Oh!" I said. "Melanoma! That makes so much more sense than flash-eating bacteria!"

And then we walked out of the ladies room and later I realized I was maybe not as reassuring as I had hoped unless my goal had been to reassure Jane she was not the crazy lady in the department because that position had already been filled by Yours Truly.

- - -

So, sometimes the easiest things are the best, like not assuming your zit is flesh-eating disease, or like making quick scarves using plain old garter stitch and a bunch of orphaned skeins of yarn. Look at that smooth transition from one subject to another! Ah, the literary masters will weep at my prowess.

On Sunday I pulled out a plastic bin of yarn that I'd been keeping around forever. Most of it was stuff I'd bought back when I first started knitting and was yarn-crazy. Back then I was constantly buying one or two little skeins of yarn with no project in mind and after a while I had all this yarn and not enough of any one flavor to make even a hat! A lot of it has since gone out of style, mostly eyelash or fuzzy novelty yarns, but there was some good stuff in there, too, like a beautiful hand-dyed wool from a reader friend and a lovely soft cotton yarn. Luckily my tastes seem to run toward pink, red, orange and more pink so all the colors looked great together in the bin.

multicolor-tub-o-yarn.jpg

I've been wanting to knit a scarf lengthwise for a long time and recently my friend Work Jennifer completed a beautiful scarf knit lengthwise on long circular needles and it inspired me. So I got out my tub o' yarn and cast on about 250 stitches (it's a REALLY LONG scarf!) on size 11 needles. I think they are a 32" long set of circular needles. And I just knit garter stitch (knit stitch) on every row and the fun was trying out all the different yarns and stranding a few together and mixing in the colors and textures. I tried this once before on The World's Ugliest Scarf, and now I wish I would have knit that monstrosity lengthwise because I bet it would have been beautiful!

I love mixing yarns and coming up with crazy yarn combinations and it worked perfectly in this scarf:

multicolor-scarf1.jpg

multicolor-scarf2.jpg

This scarf might be my favorite thing I have knit yet! It was super simple, knit every stitch and at the end of each row just leave a long piece of yarn to make a fringe.

I love really long scarves, which I guess seems odd for someone so short. But to me there is nothing finer than a crazyass oversized scarf. Maybe it's because I wear mostly basic, unfussy clothes and a big, wild scarf just makes me feel festive. Anyway, my good friend Work Jennifer helped me with my photos and she was trying to find some way to illustrate how ridiculously long this thing is:

multicolor-scarf-jen3.jpg


multicolor-scarf-jen2.jpg


multicolor-scarf-jen1.jpg

She is so damn cute. I love that we've become friends. Having someone at work you can chitchat with and share your knitting zeal with at work makes every day so much better! She and Corey both oooohed and ahhhed over my now favorite scarf ever, even though it is long enough to use as a fluffy burqa.

And it only took me an evening and a half to make this big ol' multicolored scarf! After knitting every project recently on size 3, 4 and 5 needles, it was really fun to whip up something fast on size 11s. I also had SO MUCH help while knitting my scarf:

multicolor-bob-helps2.jpg
Action shot!

multicolor-bob-helps.jpg
Bob searching for the wooden needles hidden in the bin. He's like a heat-seeking missile when it comes to wooden knitting needles.

So that's my scarf and my flesh-eating zit story of the day. The moral here is don't overdose on Web M.D. OR throw away those half-skeins of novelty yarn. Just like the moral in a regular fairy tale.


- - -
Edited to add: One of my favorite knitters on the planet Wendy Johnson is giving away five copies of my book today at wendyknits.net. Bob is currently gathering up his secret stock of hair barrettes, bottle tops and twist ties and saving them for lovely Lucy, who might one day be my cat-in-law....

Posted by laurie at 9:34 AM

February 10, 2010

It's good to have a radio and a propensity for daydreaming when you're stuck on the 101.

Ah, Los Angeles, city of a million bikini wax options, home of the blonde, land of the screenplay. The latter could be composed on one of our freeways during rush hour but I suggest composing your next big blockbuster while seated comfortably on the Hollywood Freeway, its name alone bringing you closer to lights, action and cameras put to good use while idling:

feb10-rainyday-traffic.jpg

Rainy day commute. Can it still be considered "driving" if you are just sitting still?

I'm in traffic a lot and it rarely bothers me, I love singing along to the radio and daydreaming and looking at the scenery. And I love taking pictures while I'm sitting still. I don't think it counts as distracted driving since 1) I am not actually moving for long periods of time and 2) I'm still watching traffic, albeit through a lens. I know Oprah is really pushing hard against distracted driving and I agree with her! Of course who am I to say, I never text, driving or not, my fingers are too fat to type on my phone. For goodness sakes just call me or email me if you have something to say! (Am I getting old? Is this the first sign of aging, being text-adverse?)

But some folks find that's the way to while away the freeway hours:

feb10-texting.jpg

Me, I prefer taking pictures of the crazy beautiful sky:

feb10-crazysky.jpg

feb10-crazysky2.jpg


And RAINBOWS! Rainbows in Los Angeles!!

feb10-rainbow.jpg

That's out the back of the Jeep window. (When I said traffic was not moving, I wasn't exaggerating for heightened drama. If you want to know what this kind of traffic is like, just go to your local mall and pull into the parking lot behind a parked car and then idle, waiting for the parked car in front of you to move. That's L.A. traffic.)

Here's a rainbow over Hollywood, seen through the side door:

feb10-rainbow2.jpg


This morning the city is sunny and SO BEAUTIFUL, I wish you could see L.A. after a hard rain, it's the most gorgeous place on earth. All the buildings are shiny and sparkling and the air is fresh and crisp. The local mountains are covered in snow and they frame the city like a picture postcard:

feb10-snowcapped-city.jpg


And of course a beautiful day isn't complete without a cat picture!!

feb10-soba-toy.jpg
La Soba.

Happy Wednesday!


Posted by laurie at 10:21 AM

February 9, 2010

Bold return of the crazy camera lady eminent, bring two double-A batteries, stat!

Hello! First of all, thank you so much for the comments and emails telling me about your cameras and your reviews. It was a tough decision. I've had my purchase for about a week now and while it was a slow start getting to know each other we have since grown very close and the Dyson is feeling jealous. Ah, the secret life of electronics.

bob-new-camera.jpg
That cat lady, she crazy.

I went with the Canon PowerShot A1100IS, a very simple point and shoot. This Canon is a little brick of a camera, reminiscent of my first Kodak EasyShare from a decade ago (which I loved to death, literally). I like the size but if you are looking for a tiny, credit-card thin camera this is not the one for you. It has some heft without being bulky like an SLR, which I prefer. And I really like the wheel on the top of the camera that changes settings (from auto to video, for example) because it's simple to use but has enough tension not to twirl around accidentally.

The shutter button is also very obvious so if you're off traveling and ask a stranger who doesn't speak your language to take your picture they would know intuitively which button to push. (Or if you've had too much wine. It happens.) Everything is clearly marked and the buttons are spaced well enough that you don't accidentally hit three at one time if you have pudgy little fingers like I do.

The test images I took in very low light were mostly good, some were grainy but not one came out blurry like my lemon. And that's the test, because I can retouch grainy but you can't come back from blurry. I expected some visual noise with a point-and-shoot in dim lighting (if you ever find a point-and-shoot camera that has no noise in low light settings, you must tell me!) But almost all my display is online so I can live with it. I'm only pointing this out because if you want a camera that can produce poster-size prints without a flash, this would not be a first choice.

soba-new-camera.jpg
Aren't you planning to make this into a poster?

I would recommend this camera 100% for anyone who is a novice and wants a VERY user-friendly camera. It is definitely simple to use and I love that. But I do find it irritating that no one gives the consumer a full user's manual anymore -- hello, we would pay $2 extra for a pocket size booklet of the full user's guide included in the box! -- because it improves picture quality if you know all the nuances of the settings. I went online and downloaded the full manual but wish they'd just included it. And there was no carrying case, which was surprising, not even a cheapo cloth case.

It took me a few minutes to get the auto-timer working just so, but I finally found it and tested it out. Being able to set a timer is a MUST when you travel alone. (By the way, if you do travel alone, I highly recommend the Gorillapod Flexible Tripod, you can bend the legs to wrap around fenceposts and signposts and window railings and get shots from almost anywhere!)

I almost got caught up in trying to buy something fancier but Work Jennifer helped me do a reality check and remember I mostly take pictures of cats and bumper stickers and funny signs. I don't need a thousand dollar camera with changeable lenses and extreme telephoto. Now I'm really glad I went with an easypeasy camera, I love it. The test pictures of the cats came out well even in a dark room and the knitting close-ups I took are fine, too:

canonfrankiepaw.jpg
Cat paw super close-up!


canonbob.jpg
Bob asleep at the foot of the bed. Awww.


canontest1-knitting.jpg
Mystery knitting close up in a dimly lit room and no flash.


And of course the big question is... can I take good pictures of my TV weatherman Dallas Raines like the reclusive little stalker I am...

dallas-raines-new-camera.jpg
Oh yeah, Dapper Dallas forecasting rain and sun and flying palm trees all in one day!

The one downside is that the lag time between shots is awfully long, you have to wait a few seconds for the camera to record the image and be ready for the next shot. I haven't tried the video yet so I can't comment on it.

Overall, though, I'm happy. I am mostly happy to have decided on something and be done with it! I got a little stressed out looking for a camera. I was searching and reading and poring over all the reviews and I was getting hung up on buying THE PERFECT CAMERA. As soon as I noticed I was doing that, getting all mired down with the pursuit of impossible perfection, I made myself just choose one and move on. I know this one isn't PERFECT but I like it just fine and I'm trying to remember that the world will keep spinning on its axis if I decide a year later to sell it on ebay and buy a different one. It's a camera, not a heart transplant. Realistically I don't need the $500 rockstar point-and-shoot (though I almost bought this one instead: Canon PowerShot G11 10MP Digital Camera but at the last minute realized I could buy a roundtrip ticket to Barcelona for the cost of that camera.) I liked the Canon PowerShot SX120, but the cheesy pop-up flash weirded me out. (How's that for technical jargon?) There is just so much out there to choose from!

I can't believe how much cheaper electronics are year after year... my first digital camera cost over $400 and it had such limited features compared to all these newer models. Over the weekend as I tried out my new camera I remembered how reluctant I was to make the switch from film to digital. Now I can't imagine going back to film and waiting to get your pictures developed before seeing if any of your shots worked out. I like the instant satisfaction of seeing my cats both in person and on "film" right away!

canonfrankie1.jpg
Frankie says, "Relax!"

Posted by laurie at 9:21 AM

February 8, 2010

Book signing on February 25th at The Grove in Los Angeles

Hello!

I am not touring for this book but I will be doing one reading/book signing in Los Angeles:

Barnes & Noble at The Grove
189 Grove Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90036
Thursday, February 25th, 2010
7:00 p.m. [ Map here ]

I am a little nervous. I haven't done any public appearances since 2006? 2007? And I've relapsed into my cozy hermit shell, where it's pleasant and there is TV. But I am excited to see folks I haven't seen in so long and chitchat and see what ya'll are knitting and look at your cute shoes and thank you for buying my book and also for agreeing with me that dating should come with hazard pay. I will also happily sign any book you buy, not just my books. I am flexible that way.

So there you have it. I will be at the bookstore on February 25th, all of me, so much more to go around this time! We will pretend I am taller, perhaps. Maybe I can find some really high heels. Or maybe I will get you all drunk so I look prettier through the misty haze of your tipsiness. Who knows! Be there or be a granny square!

Posted by laurie at 10:21 AM

February 4, 2010

Reason #37 I can't vacuum...

vacuumcats.jpg

File under "crazy cat lady" shenanigans: I plugged in the vacuum, walked away for just a half second and when I turned back around the felines had all decided to lounge so peacefully and artfully right in the path of the dreaded scary noise machine that I couldn't bring myself to scare them away.

(Also cross-filed under "Things not to tell potential dates.")

Posted by laurie at 6:32 AM

February 3, 2010

If there's traffic and Dallas Raines, we must be in Los Angeles.

Good morning, freeway!

feb32010-morning-drive.jpg

How YOU doin' today?

- - -

It's an El NiƱo year, which means we're going to have more RAIN. I know, I know, you're digging out under a snowbank and saying don't cry for me Argentina with your silly rain ... but that is because you have no idea how hard it is for us Los Angelenos. We're not accustomed to all this moisture falling from the sky. We like our air to be crunchy, our roads to stay dry and our weathermen to be perpetually bronzed:

dallas-raines-feb32010-2.jpg
Stern Dallas Raines!

dallas-raines-feb32010-1.jpg
Dapper Dallas Raines!

This has been a long, hard winter. We haven't seen an 80-degree day in weeks! I even had to go buy an "umbrella" device. How ever will we survive in such conditions?

meltyfrankie.jpg

Is the cat blurry or did it melt from all the rain? We may never know!!!!

Posted by laurie at 10:09 AM

February 2, 2010

Tuesday Five Things

1) Funny:

oband-pizza-candy.jpg

Hard to tell from my crappy picture, but that's Vitello's pizza on the left and just beside it on the right is SweetHarts, the candy shop run by the Hart family (of Melissa Joan Hart). Above both is the world's largest gastric band billboard. Funny?


2) Knitting

I have been knitting a baby sweater and booties set for my friend Courtney's new baby and by now I fear the child is already walking and will soon be driving while I am over here trying to finish a button band. I think the problem is that the pattern I chose looked better in the pictures than it does knitted up and since Courtney is a great knitter, I'm afraid she will think it's cheesy. Do I just finish it and wash it, block it and wrap it up and send it off with love or do I scrap the whole set and make something new? Tough to say. Maybe I'll do both. Send this off with a note that it was cuter in the pattern picture and then try to make her baby something really pretty at a later date.

3) TeeVee
I love television. This year I'm watching American Idol, which I haven't watched in over five years and I'm so glad I tuned in, I think there's something so entertainuplifting about watching people work toward a goal. Plus, I can't carry a tune in a bucket so I admire anyone with the ability to sing. And, just because it was on one night, I started watching the show that comes on after, Human Target. IT IS SO AWESOME. Cheesey fun entertainment in the ilk of Bond-meets-The Bodyguard. I'm also still watching Castle, which keeps getting better, and International House Hunters and all my usual addictions on The Travel Channel.

Last night I watched Anthony Bourdain in Prague and it made me feel a little sentimental about Prague and the great time I had there with Mr. X. But that was a long time ago, and one of the things most happy and liberating about my life now is that I am not afraid to go there by myself and make all sorts of new memories. Being the captain of your own ship can feel a little heavy sometimes, but it is also totally freeing in a way I never would have expected. I guess everything is two sides: the good and the not-so-good. Like the good Doctor Dyer says, every wave has a peak and a valley.

4) Book stuff
Apparently, I have an online book tour. I forgot I said yes to this, and so it snuck up on me. I have never done one of these but I agreed to it because I do not have to leave my house. I was sort of nervous, because I suck at promotion of pretty much every type and I didn't know what would happen. How nice to see the first person on the list was Kristy Sammis, who is like an old friend. So it's all very incestuous... just the way I like it and hopefully they will all be nice, which is all anyone who writes really wants. Forget constructive criticism, that is what the editor is for. Hah! Actually, it just dawned on me they're all doing book giveaways and I should do that too. I just got my shipment of books so maybe if I get my act together later this week or next week we can do that.

One thing I do love is how knitting folks all seem to stick together online. It's kind of the way the internet (and the world) should always be. I remember when the Yarn Harlot introduced herself to me at my first Book Expo and gave me a hug and it felt like finding a really solid anchor in the midst of a crazyass sea. Because of the blogtour thingy I've gotten to correspond this week with two of my favorite knitters, too, Wendy Johnson and Wendy Bernard. Knit people are good folks. I've met a lot of fancypants book people since all this started, and the knitters and crocheters are the only ones who are universally supportive, friendly and hoping you succeed, too. Some authors in other genres seem to feel if another writer gets a leg up it ruins their own chances. But with the yarn writers, they all seem to believe (as I do) that when one person gets an opportunity it opens the door wider for us all. I LOVE THAT.

5) Not All Pollyanna Fun & Games, Missy
I did lock myself out of my own Jeep this morning in the parking garage. I was on the phone blabbing away happily and then I got out of the Jeep, locked and shut the driver's side door, walked to the passenger's side to get out my giganto-purse and my lunch and realized the door was locked. With my keys sitting in my purse pocket. Inside the Jeep. Luckily I know the secret whatsithaveyou to breaking into my own car, so I broke in just as Jennifer walked up and laughed at me (we work in the same building.) I am so happy that Jen got to witness me breaking into my own car on a Tuesday morning, an auspicious beginning to a day.

Oh, and I ate breakfast this morning. Thank goodness, I needed my strength for breaking and entering.

Posted by laurie at 10:18 AM

February 1, 2010

February check in

It seems like five minutes ago that I was sitting down with a fresh notebook and a pen, contemplating my navel and making New Year's Resolutions. And now we're already a month in!

While I doubt this is as scintillating as, say, knitting content or videos of my cat sleeping, I thought I would post a little progress report at the beginning of each month here in my online diary more to keep me accountable than anything else.

Priority #1: Get Healthy

Progress: This is a tricky subject to write about because a lot of getting healthy is about food but it's so easy to devolve into diet mentality and start listing what you ate and grading yourself like a character assessment ("I ate this and am therefore good, I ate that and am therefore bad...") and honestly there is nothing more cliche or boring in this world to me than a woman blathering on about what she ate that day like a verbal diet diary. BO-RING. Useless. Unproductive. Total diet-brain stereotype.

So, having said that, I'm making good progress in my goal to be healthier. There is a food component, of course, but I'm trying to look at the whole and not be so weird about being ON PLAN or OFF PLAN and just remember you get one life with a lot of days and a lot of meals and the goal is to make basically healthy choices, that's the plan stan. (It is not the two tablespoons of olive oil on the roasted cauliflower that make you fat.)

The immediate challenge was to reign in my repertoire of mostly drive-through and junk food, none of which has any real nutritional value. Since the beginning of January I've been cooking all my meals except the occasional microwaved popcorn. The key is all the prep work on the weekends. I make sure to cook and assemble all my lunches on Sunday afternoon and pack my lunch bag every night before going to bed. It takes a lot of thinking ahead but it's worth it -- lunch is so easy during the week.

Dinners need to be quick -- I commute and I'm starving when I get home -- so I have been making staples ahead of time and re-heating them when I get home which is working out really well. Even roasted veggies re-heat well in the oven (I think they come back better in the oven for ten minutes on 300 than in the microwave.) I've been bringing snacks, too, mostly apples and walnuts because they keep longer and I like them. I'm discovering I'm more of a veggies person than a fruit person. I would rather eat a bowl of green beans than peel and eat an orange. But I like apples and they're portable.

I'm still having a hard time finding a workable breakfast, sometimes all I want is a coffee on the way to work. In February I want to work on getting a better breakfast routine.

All in all though, I'm pretty happy about cooking my own food. I like experimenting with new recipes and finding new foods (Brussels sprouts! who would have guessed it!) and I'm working very hard to keep sane about all this. If I start counting carbs or points or calories, someone smack me.

Exercise: I bought some awesome Nike shoes on sale right before the new year and I ordered the Nike + SportBand which comes with the memory chip you place inside the shoe. You can't feel the chip (it's underneath the insole) and it tracks your mileage and calories and all that, it's awesome. I was getting into a groove until it started raining like crazy and then I just stayed in and snuggled with the cats and watched the weather each morning on TV instead of going for a walk. On the days I was walking, I noticed I slept a little better. Absolutely want to do more walking in February (she says just as the forecast projects more rain this week.)

So overall I am making progress in the health arena. Mostly little changes here and there, the biggest change being all the cooking and washing and chopping and so on. It is time consuming but it's getting easier each week. One thing I keep reminding myself is to look how fast January went by! And to remember that the small changes are cumulative and over time will make a larger change in my health and shape. At the beginning of the month it felt daunting to cook all my meals from scratch for four weeks but it went by in a blink and now already we're in month two of twelve. It really does get easier each passing day and I'm finally not having those McDonald's french fries detox pains anymore. I swear, I think McDonald's is more addictive than crack. Not that I have done a comparative study, mind you.

- - -

Priority #2: Come from an attitude of yes.

Progress: This is kind of one of those hippdippy resolutions that is so loosely defined it may not mean anything to anyone but me. Basically, I want to focus more on the good parts and less on the icky parts of life, looking for ways up instead of finding all the ways down.

My progress this past month has been ... interesting. I had a few times where I knew I overreacted to something or got upset about something I should have just let go. I want to get better at letting go of other people's crap. The Dalai Lama says you have all the power in your life to choose how you feel about someone else's words or actions. Except I noticed a few times last month that I get all inflamed with emotion before my brain even kicks in! Guess that is why he is the Dalai Lama and I am Her Ladyship PantiesInAWad.

Last week was particularly rocky and I didn't handle a difficult person very well. Luckily every passing moment is a chance to turn it all around. (Uh, it took me the whole week.) The biggest thing I want to work on in February is to institute a cooling-down period. Had I just taken a step or five back and waited to reply or respond to the difficult person, I may have had much better results. I tend to speak without a filter and I also get emotional about stupid stuff that isn't even that important. A cooling-off period helps me put things into perspective.

There were a few times this past month, though, when I started to really dwell on something icky and I caught myself mid-ick and made my brain think other thoughts until I honestly felt happier. So that is progress!! My favorite thought is just a little fantasy picture: Me sitting in a cafe in Paris (I get to imagine what I am wearing, down to my shoes) and I'm stirring a spoon through a steaming hot cup of coffee with milk. On the table is the cup and saucer, a smaller saucer with a few cubes of sugar, maybe a candle, or a place mat, a napkin. I have a guidebook with me, it's sitting out by the cup. Nothing of consequence happens in this scene, I'm just stirring the coffee in a Parisian cafe as the world walks by.

Thinking up that little picture makes crummy stuff in real life evaporate. It reminds me that the globe is large, much larger than the beige office or the crawling commute or the floors that need mopping.


- - -

I'm not sure how this is related to those resolutions, exactly, but it is: ever since I moved I've found it impossible to part with anything. It's only been a few months but still, it's very odd. I know I have tendencies to hoard and I try very hard to be diligent and clean and cull and let go of things when I need to. But I have been unable to let go of anything for a few months (except trash of course). It became very apparent to me the day I received a duplicate of a book I already owned and instead of passing it along I shelved it right up on the bookshelf next to its twin.

WEIRD. Even for me.

Last month I realized it was a combination of anxiety and discomfort and I figured it would work itself out. I'd also just parted with a huge chunk of stuff all at once when I moved, and maybe I needed a little time. I don't know.

Slowly (in the past week and a half) I've started easing up and over the weekend I took a whole Jeepload of stuff to the Goodwill, mostly clothes and things I found when I moved that I should have let go of back in September instead of moving them with me. And of course that extra book! And some other odds and ends. I also cleared out a big bag of papers and magazines and junk and went through my closet one more time and found some winter coats that don't fit and I donated those, too.

It felt good to clean up and clean out. I think it's a positive sign that I can at least tell when something is weird with me and I'm willing to let it work itself out. And it did work itself, I guess, since I felt a lot of relief cleaning the closet and getting rid of unneeded clutter.

- - -

Well, that was January. I ordered a new camera but it hasn't come yet. All empowered by the brilliant idea (after many many moons) to get rid of my lemon camera, I looked around my life for other lemons to eliminate. This weekend I made a list of other funkadelic things that are nagging at me and I'm going to fix or get rid of the irritation. Some will have to wait because of the cost, but some things I can fix myself. That has got to be a good step in the year of yes.

Posted by laurie at 9:49 AM